Nearly a dozen City Council and mayoral candidates will be on the ballot in Grover Beach this November, and incumbent City Councilmember Karen Bright is squaring off against a number of them.
That includes 16-year resident of Grover Beach and California native Dan Rushing.
- Photo Courtesy Of Dan Rushing
- RUSHING Grover Beach City Council candidate Dan Rushing.
Rushing, who is endorsed by the SLO County Democratic Party, worked as a website producer in San Francisco before leaving and moving to Grover Beach with his wife in the early 2000s. Here, he's worked as a personal chef, line cook, restaurant manager, and for the last decade, as a wholesale distributor to restaurants throughout the Central Coast.
With so much experience in the service industry that Grover Beach and the rest of the Central Coast rely so heavily on, Rushing said he hopes to help those businesses and their employees make it through the pandemic.
"Because of where we are right now," Rushing told New Times, "it's incredibly important that everything City Council can do to make sure that businesses and residents are protected and supported, in whatever way a city council can, needs to happen."
To Rushing, that means streamlining the processes for expanding local businesses in Grover Beach, increasing the city's number of affordable housing units for residents like service industry employees, and expanding Grand Avenue's offerings by developing more mixed-use facilities that would cultivate retail, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and housing in the area. Those efforts, along with much-needed road repairs, could help Grover attract more tourists and develop a more vibrant commerce district, Rushing said, while also protecting Grover's residents and workers.
"Allowing the people that live here to be able to thrive here is very important to me," he said.
- Photo Courtesy Of Anna Miller
- MILLER Grover Beach City Council candidate Anna Miller.
For City Council candidate Anna Miller, this upcoming election is all about preventing a forecasted increase in homelessness. Miller has lived in Grover Beach for about four years, where she works as director of property management for Peoples' Self-Help Housing and serves on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Five Cities Homeless Coalition and the Grover Beach Community Library.
Grover Beach City Council recently adopted affordable housing and homeless prevention efforts as city priorities, and Miller said she wants to continue and broaden the efforts to provide affordable and low-income housing options throughout the city.
It's an issue that's close to her heart. As a child, she moved from Vietnam to the U.S. with her mother and siblings with hardly anything else. Without the financial and housing assistance her family received, Miller said she wouldn't have been able to get an education, get out of poverty, and live the life she has today as an American.
"So regardless of political leaning," Miller told New Times, "I believe that everyone deserves the dignity of having a place to call home."
But, thanks to her decades-long work in the housing industry, Miller said she also has experience managing people and multi-million-dollar budgets. She too hopes to advocate for more street repairs and better assist local businesses struggling through the pandemic, and would like to improve the flow of communication between residents and local government.
Candidate Will Bruce has lived on the Central Coast for practically his whole life. He first moved to Grover Beach in 1973 when he was a kid, and the farthest away he ever lived officially was a stint in Alameda, where he served as the dean of special programs and grants at the College of Alameda.
Bruce said he's done a lot of different things throughout his lifetime, but he's an educator and advocate at the core.
As a teen, Bruce said his family was poor. He struggled with alcohol and drug use and for years barley had enough to get by. He always thought college was for rich kids, but after having a son and getting sober, he discovered that he qualified for financial aid programs at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. He enrolled in 1994 as a single dad, and found out that he was actually a good student.
After graduating from Hancock with several degrees, Bruce earned a bachelor's at Cal Poly and then was offered a position at Hancock, where he led the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program, the very program that helped him through school and is aimed at providing low-income students with needed support services and assistance.
After the economic crash of 2008, Bruce served as the president of the California Community College EOPS Association, where he helped lobby state legislators and community college chancellors on behalf of low-income students.
He has experience organizing, leading, educating, and advocating, and those are the skills Bruce said he would use to help get Grover Beach out of and recovered from the pandemic. Plus, he said, after a recent ugly divorce and various health issues, he needs something to keep him busy and out of trouble.
"If elected," he said, "I'll do my best."
- Photo Courtesy Of David Duringer
- DURINGER Grover Beach City Council candidate David Duringer.
David Duringer is hoping to fill a two-year term left by Barbara Nicolls, who was elected in 2018 for a four-year term but retired on June 30 due to health issues. Duringer moved from Orange County to Grover Beach just about a year ago, but he and his wife have long been visitors and lovers of the area and his daughter attends Cal Poly.
Duringer currently works as a trust lawyer, where he helps families grow their generational wealth and success. That's something he believes cities like Grover Beach can help its residents do too, although he said the opposite often happens, which especially true now due to the pandemic and its effects on the economy.
If elected, Duringer said he would push to get kids back into school and the economy reopened, including the Oceano Dunes. He hopes to help cultivate a better looking and better running Grover Beach, but not by raising taxes on residents.
With degrees in law and economics, Duringer said he's confident he has the knowledge necessary to lead Grover Beach out of the financial hardship faced by so many nationwide.
"I would just like to be a voice for the conservative people and [conservative]minded things," he said.
Several other Grover Beach City Council and mayoral candidates will be introduced in a New Times story next week. Δ